Monday, October 27, 2008


After World War I the design community did seem to have the same connection with everyday people as they had before. “Manufactures considered design, as during the nineteenth century, as endless variations on traditional decorative patterns applied to furniture, lighting fixtures, silverware, ceramics, wallpaper, and fabrics” (pile 94). With the change in design taste in 1925 at the world’s fair the style Art Deco was introduced. The style was both praised and criticized by its viewers at the fair. The United States didn’t have the same take on the style as Europe did, in that instead of incorporating the new modern style in homes the US designed skyscrapers with it’s ideals. Including the interior furniture. With the new Zoning law in New York City’s the need for skyscraper technology advancements was at it’s high (pile 100). Because of the expense of the modern design everyday Americans weren’t able to afford it thus leaving the style to be seen in large expensive skyscrapers and hotels in the cities.

It wasn’t until the Great Depression would the new modern designs become more affordable for everyday people, only because they would be forced to. During this time it was so important that designers find an alternative way to make design more affordable because in national crisis such as the depression design is not seen as a necessity but more as a luxury. The automobile is a prime example of the changed made to make the product more affordable. Originally the building of a car was very labor intensive using “composite bodies of sheet metal on wooden frames,” then moving towards innovations of  “all steel bodies stamped in huge presses” (Pile 104). With the Great Depression Industrial Design was introduced and with it industrial designers. These designers were the ones that could make a product affordable for the consumers as well as keeping the product equally attractive.

How does this situation relate to today? Are we going to have to become industrial designers ourselves? Is our current economy today equally as bad? What about green design that seems to becoming more popular today, how will it have to change?


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Modernism II

The Bauhaus was a school of design located in Weimar, Germany which began in 1919. The German word “bauen” means “to build”. The school supported artistic freedom and individuality. It showed little interest in design standards and industrial movements in technology. Their main objective was a concern for the equality and collaboration between the artist and the craftsman. They were attempting to overcome any opposition between the fine and applied arts and to achieve a spiritual association with the creative process. It was all about “the craft” . The school believed that there was no such thing as “professional art”. They believed that “An artist is nothing more than an exalted artist.” According to their philosophy, the buildings of the future were to be a combination of architecture, sculpture, and painting. All three would be used to create a singular form. (Raizman 181) Professors, or “masters” taught all first year students under a common set of classes called the “Vorkurs” These classes taught students to draw connections between artistic activity and the discovery of unconscious reality. After this, students split up into areas of expertise. An example of the student’s work is the Sommerfield House in Berlin. Though it no longer exists, the house was an example of the early Bauhaus emphasis upon the integration between construction and ornamentation.
The school struggled for adequate resources because they were suffering criticism from both the government and other designers associated with the Constructivism movement. This movement was very different from that of the Bauhaus. They were structured around the practice of mechanized industrial production. The school responded to this negativity by shifting the focus of their mission and curriculum. This “shift of focus” turned into a complete 180 degree change in philosophy. This turn of events came about when Constructivist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy was appointed as the new director of the Vorkurs program. No as you remember, I mentioned the constructivists earlier on. The constructivists were the designers with a completely different philosophy who had been criticizing the Bauhaus. So as you can imagine the impact he played on the school. Naturally, when taking over the Vorkurs classes he brought in his industrial focus. He also brought in his strong commitment to mechanized mass production. He also reduced the importance of craft specialization and traditional workshop training. The spiritual association with the creative process was no longer considered important. The new philosophy was focused on an appreciation of the aesthetic potential of new industrial materials. Moholy-Nagy stated, “Constructivism is not confined to the picture frame and the pedestal. IT expands into industrial design, into house, objects, forms. It is the socialism of vision - the common property of all men (Raizman 184) .” He believed that this new theory would broaden the professional horizons for the students. And he believed that this philosophy compensated for the sacrifice of individuality. A structural example of the new curriculum is the student built Haus-Am Horn. It consisted of a large living room surrounded by smaller rectangular rooms, each intended for a specific domestic function. It was constructed of prefabricated material and was intended to be the prototype of future, cheap, quick, public housing.
Even after all of these changes, even after the original philosophy completely changed to that of the critics, the government was still not pleased and the philosophy of the Bauhaus was again repainted with new faculty and curriculum again and again. Reading this blog, what opinion have you formed regarding the philosophy of the original Bauhaus vs. the revised? Do you feel Moholy-Nagy’s ideas were beneficial, even called for. Do you believe that the Bauhaus started of with the right idea but was then corrupted?

This blog is intended for the interior design students in the college of design at the University of Kentucky. It was created with the intent to present students with information, providing them with a channel for contemplation and discussion.